Since Bismarck, we’ve had four days in a row with a relentless headwind, and by yesterday afternoon it had really started to take a toll on our legs. Last night, Wes suggested that we make today “a chill day.” The plan was to ride 18 miles into Fergus Falls before breakfast and then decide how far to go from there. It was raining for most of those 18 miles, and there was a headwind the entire way. Each of us took a turn riding in front and blocking the wind for 6 miles. Our chill day was not off to a great start.
We found Fergus Falls to be a beautiful town situated around the Otter Tail River. We rode down streets lined with Ash and Oak trees (I’m still not quite used to seeing so many trees) to the Viking Cafe downtown. A leisurely breakfast of pancakes and hash browns put us back on track for our chill day.
We decided to make Alexandria our destination, which is about 65 miles from where we started in Rothsay. Right outside of Fergus Falls, we picked up a bike path that goes for almost two hundred miles through Minnesota. The path is flat and smooth, it keeps us off of the busy roads, and it provides some shelter from the wind.
We cruised along the path for the rest of the morning, passing through small towns every ten miles or so. It’s a nice change to have services so often, especially after being in some remote areas in North Dakota. In the afternoon, we rode through a particularly buggy section of trail where we once again had to take turns riding in front, only this time the leader was blocking the others from thick clouds of gnats rather than from headwinds.
We rolled into Alexandria at 5pm, later than usual after our extended break in Fergus Falls. Our typical strategy for finding a place to camp is to call the local police station and ask if we can stay in any of the town parks. A phone call with the Alexandria PD made it clear that this would not be an option tonight.
It was now almost 6pm, and we were getting desperate, so we knocked on the door of the Calvary Lutheran Church, hoping to find a patch of grass where we could set up our tents. Before we knew it, we were being introduced to Pastor Hans and half of the Calvary’s congregation, including Sue and Jeffrey Meland, who offered to host us at their house for the night. We attended the Saturday evening worship service then rode over the Meland house for dinner, showers, and laundry. Once again, I am blown away by the kindness of strangers. We owe a huge thanks to the Melands and to the incredible Calvary congregation for their generosity.